Volume 4, Issue 12 (December, 2000)


Welcome to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter.

Here is what you will find in this issue:

1. What's New on the Neuroscience for Kids Web Pages
2. The Neuroscience for Kids Page of the Month
3. Contest Deadlines
4. Milestone for the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter
5. Brain Awareness Week 2001
6. Head for the Hills
7. Media Alert
8. E-mail Changes?
9. Treasure Trove of Brain Trivia
10. How to Stop Your Subscription


Neuroscience for Kids had several new additions in November. Here are some of them:

A. November Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter was archived
B. December NeuroCalendar
C. UW Brain Awareness Week 2001
D. UW Brain Awareness Week Open House Registration Form

In November, 12 new figures were added and 46 pages were modified.


The Neuroscience for Kids "Page of the Month" for December is the "Mad Scientist Network" at:

"The Mad Scientist Network" (Washington University, St. Louis, MO) is a great place to get all of your science questions answered. The network can answer your questions about agricultural sciences, anatomy, astronomy, biochemistry, botany, chemistry, biology, ecology, earth sciences, genetics, neuroscience, physics and zoology. Just e-mail your question and it will be answered by a group of scientists and posted to the Mad Scientist Network web site. The Mad Scientist Network boasts that it has answered more than 25,000 questions over the last several years. The entire database of past questions and answers can be searched by keyword. It appears that most questions are answered in about one week, although in some cases it may be a month before you get your answer. Don't be afraid to ask your questions. The only "bad" question is one that is not asked.


The Neuroscience for Kids Drawing Contest is still open, but there are only two months left. Get the rules and entry form for the contest at:

Send your drawing in soon. There are some great brain books waiting for the winners!

The deadline for the American Academy of Neurology Neuroscience Prizes is also approaching (December 15, 2000).


There are now more than 5,000 people who receive this Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter each month. The newsletter goes out to students, teachers, parents, grandparents, administrators, nurses, instructors, professors, psychologists, and scientists around the world. From Australia to Zambia, people are reading the newsletter to learn about the three pounds (1.4 kg) of tissue in our heads called the brain. I want to thank the many newsletter readers who have sent in ideas and suggestions about the web site and to those of you who have sent me magazine clippings, "neuro" photos, artwork, books, and even a brain cookie cutter.


Brain Awareness Week (BAW) will take place March 12-18, 2001 and now is the time to start planning. BAW is a great time to share what you know and have learned about the brain. If you are a student, you could write a special report or do some experiments to investigate how the nervous system works. Teachers can organize classroom activities or science fairs with a brain theme. If you are a neuroscientist, you may want to get into a classroom and talk with students or invite them to visit you in your lab.

Here are more ideas to get you started:

A. Do some brainy activities during BAW. You can find a one week lesson plan for BAW and many experiments and demonstrations on the Neuroscience for Kids web site.

B. Hold a BAW Open House or Science Fair.

C. Send an electronic BAW greeting card:

D. Have a neuroscientist visit your class. You may find a neuroscientist who is interested in visiting your class at the Society for Neuroscience Committee on Neuroscience Literacy web site.

E. Create your own BAW web site:

You will find other ideas for BAW activities at the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and Society for Neuroscience BAW web sites: and

Here at the University of Washington, we are planning a BAW Open House for Tuesday, March 6, 2001. About 300 local students will be invited to attend a presentation by the Pacific Science Center/Group Health Cooperative Brain Power Team. After the presentation, students will explore interactive, hands-on booths set up by UW neuroscientists. Last year the BAW Open House was a tremendous success and this year it is shaping up to be another exciting event. For a description of this year's UW BAW activities including the Open House, please see:

Please return the application early. Space is limited to 300 students.


When the first snowflake falls to the ground, many people dust off their sleds and head for the hills. Although sledding is an excellent way to enjoy the great outdoors, it is not without risk. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) estimates that snow sledding causes approximately 60,000 injuries each year. More than half of these injuries happen to children under 14 years old. About 15% of the sledding injuries involve the head.

The AAOS has outlined several "essential" rules for safe sledding:

A. No sledding on public streets.
B. Sit in a forward-facing position; no head-first sledding.
C. Sled in a clean path without hazards such as rocks and trees.
D. Supervise small children.
E. Sled in a well-lit area.

The AAOS has also outline several "preferred" rules for safe sledding:

A. Children under 12 years old should wear helmets.
B. Sleds should have runners and a way to steer.
C. Plastic sheets should not be used to sled.
D. Layers of clothing should be worn as protection against the cold.

I hope it snows in Seattle this year. My family and I look forward to a safe and fun sledding season.


AAOS at:


A. "Piecing Together Alzheimer's" in Scientific American (December, 2000).

B. Review of Dr. Robert Provine's new book, "Laughter: A Scientific Investigation" in Scientific American (December, 2000).

C. "Eyes Wide Shut" in Time Magazine (November 13, 2000): advice for sleep-deprived parents.

D. "Alzheimer's first blow" in US News and World Report (November 6, 2000): Correlation between severe head injuries and Alzheimer's.

E. "Monkeying Around with the Brain" in Newsweek Magazine (November 27, 2000, page 76): Controlling robot arms with brain activity.


Are you changing your e-mail address at the end of the year? If you are and would like to continue to receive the Neuroscience Newsletter, please let me know (e-mail: of any changes so I can update the newsletter mailing list.



A. The roundworm has 302 cells in its nervous system. (Statistic from "Simple Organisms" by Cori Bargmann, Neurobiology of Disease, Vol. 7, pp. 520-522, Oct. 2000.)

B. Dr. James Parkinson first described a neurological disorder called the "shaking palsy" (later to be called Parkinson's disease) in 1817.

C. The active ingredient in catnip is called nepetalactone.

D. Physicist Albert Einstein did not speak until he was three years old. (Statistic from the New York Times op-ed by Steven Pinker, 6/24/99 "His Brain Measured Up.")

E. The chemical known as ether was first used to manage pain during surgery in 1846 at Massachusetts General Hospital.


To remove yourself from this mailing list and stop your subscription to the Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter, send e-mail to Dr. Eric H. Chudler at:


Your comments and suggestions about this newsletter and the "Neuroscience for Kids" web site are always welcome. If there are any special topics that you would like to see on the web site, just let me know.


Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D.

"Neuroscience for Kids" is supported by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Center of Research Resources.